Amazon makes shopping social, Google rolls out personalized news feeds, Microsoft maps indoor spaces and more
Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.
Amazon Spark Brings Social to Shopping
Amazon has launched a new product-focused social network, called Amazon Spark, to help users discover items to buy. The new feature, built into Amazon’s mobile app, brings shoppable photos that resemble an Instagram feed. Amazon Spark encourages users to share and tag images or stories about their favorite products. Other users can then see these posts as well as links to the featured products, and show their approval with a “smile” button (Spark’s version of the like or favorite). A few clicks later, and users can purchase the items via Amazon’s familiar cart. Currently, only Amazon Prime members can post photos to Spark, but anyone can view the photos after creating an account. The feature is also only available on mobile at this time.
The move isn’t Amazon’s only foray into the social space. The company is also reportedly working on an all-in-one messaging app that could challenge other social platforms. The app is called Anytime, and it’s rumored to concentrate on audio and video calls, messaging and photo sharing. The app is expected to work on both mobile and desktop, but Amazon has not said when users can expect to see it launch.
Google Debuts Feed Featuring Personalized News
Google has introduced a new personalized news stream for iOS and Android. Simply called the Feed, the new feature is available within the Google app and will learn from search history and followed topics to curate a list of the news you are most interested in. The news feed will be located directly underneath the Google search bar, and will contain news articles, sports updates, videos and more. For now, it’s only available for mobile, but soon Google’s desktop search will incorporate the new Feed to mark the first facelift to world’s most used website in over 20 years. The update is now available for users in the US, with plans to roll the Feed out globally over the next few weeks.
Microsoft Builds Indoor Navigation App
Microsoft has come up with a creative new tool to help users find their way around buildings. The app is called Path Guide, and it’s designed to help you navigate malls, hospitals, office buildings and beyond—even if you can’t access location services. To achieve this, Path Guide relies on its users to create routes by recording sensory data with their smartphone while walking around indoors. This data includes number of steps, turns, stairs and more to build references for other users to follow the same path. With this method, the app can guide users to a point of interest as long as it has been visited and recorded by another user. The path creators will also be able to add text, images and voice recordings for more detailed instructions. The app is currently only available on Android.
Samsung Signs New Deal for PayPal Support
PayPal has secured another major integration, this time with tech giant Samsung. The company announced last week that the online payments system is now an option for Samsung Pay, meaning users can access their PayPal wallets to make purchases with their Samsung phone where available. Because Samsung Pay can replicate a card swipe, PayPal access will work almost everywhere that credit or debit cards are accepted. PayPal has been on a partnering spree over the last year, inking deals with Visa, MasterCard, Android Pay and, most recently, Apple Pay. PayPal support will only be available in the US to start, but Samsung says it will expand to other markets soon.
Google Introduces Play Protect
Google is rolling out a new security service to safeguard users’ smartphones from dangerous apps. Play Protect is now being deployed to all Android devices running Google Mobile Services 11 and higher. The new feature will routinely scan apps that have been downloaded from the Google Play Store for harmful behavior. It will then notify the user of any security risks found and block or delete apps that don’t comply with Android’s rules. The update also includes a highly anticipated feature announced earlier this year at Google’s I/O conference: the Play Protect status bar. Once launched, the status bar will inform users of the last security scan, as well as provide the option to perform a manual scan. The company says the Play Store will also soon display Play Protect certified badges for individual apps.
Apple Adds New Customer Support Roles for iTunes Connect
Apple has unveiled improvements to iTunes Connect that will help customer support teams respond to user reviews in the App Store. The company has announced a new role in iTunes Connect specifically so developers can enable more users at their organization to answer questions or react to concerns from app users. Previously, that ability was restricted to a select few roles within an organization, such as admins. To ease the transition, all members in iTunes Connect with the title App Manager or Marketer will receive the new customer support role permissions. However, those added to the team after July 13, 2017 will need to be manually assigned to this new role designation.